Exactly 2 km away is the house we fell in love with from our marathon house hunt back in September. Located in the Languedoc Roussillon Region of France, in the department of Herault, you may remember, it was the one with a 3-gite rental barn conversion plus a 6-bedroom house with quaint blue shutters and a pool. Named ‘Le Petite Saint Nazaires’ after the Le Grande Saint Nazaires vineyard and property all around it, this home was once their wine keepers home, and later sold and converted to apartment rental units as well as a large family home.
When the European banks took a turn, similar to the US banking situation over a year ago, they decided to tighten their belts. Our attempt at owning this property failed and Le Petite Saint Nazaires became out of reach.
The little French town of Capestang, located right on the Canal du Midi, where Le Petite Saint Nazaires is located, however, is still within reach. Entering the town along a long narrow main road, both sides are lined with giant plane trees that touch high above your head. The town creeps up, and a border of homes welcome you. You drive up towards the town square, through little light colored row houses, along twisting and turning narrow streets, towards the church steeple peeking above the rooftops. Once there, the church reveals ruin remains, with a story to discover, and stands with strength in the square. Cafés with outdoor seating, people with baguettes under their arm scurry away, giving a sense of life here. Birds that sound like a child’s squeeze toy are foreign to me, and I think to ask their name, but who? Time will reveal the secrets of the square; the wildlife and the French people who live here.
With Wednesday and Sunday morning markets, a 3000+ population and a central South France location, this little community is exactly what we’re looking for. Not too big, not too small, but just right! Small town living that’s a close 35 min trip to the Mediterranean Coast, and in between the big cities of Narbonne and Beziers where you can find everything. Giving my children a close knit French lifestyle, with everything in reach, might be the ticket.
We met a lovely English couple, Mavis and Mike, who have vacationed in Capestang for over 20 years. They just finished a complete renovation on their new home, and are letting out their original home to us. What luck! Our traditional village house, in the center of town, is the perfect starting location for another house hunt. Two rooms up on the third floor, kitchen and living second and a laundry and spare room on the ground floor, with a garage for storage. Our kitchen window opens to the street, and is close to a Pizzeria and a little Bakery. Steps away from the best reasonably priced restaurant in town, and a 5 min walk to the square and 5 min walk in the other direction to the Canal du Midi. I love our rental home. Soup is already on the stove on low boil. And the boys come home with fresh baguettes under arm.
With a lower budget, we search the surrounding areas and save loads of money in the doing. Scouring the area for the perfect house with a barn, we look for one with a barn to convert to rental units. Or 2 village houses side by side offering the life style in Capestang we love.
There is a biking/walking path along the Canal that takes you right down to the Sea. Boats are parked along the shores, full of travelers from all over Europe looking for this beauty. The fall leaves hang on the trees that line the banks, yellow, orange, and red against the blue sky. The water silently flows by, boat passengers wave at the kids, ducks quack asking for food, making our first walk along the Canal memorable.
While we drove the landscape of Minervois looking for other villages like Capestang further North West, amazing untouched hills covered in vines, tree lined roads, hills covered with black trunked shout trees; greeted us. Then a little village pops out of nowhere, and a bustling community reveals itself. It feels like the true South of France I had imagined.
October 31, Halloween! Our kids beg us to go to Narbonne in search of costumes. We hit the mall, and sure enough, Angelina found a white bride dress, and Daniel chose a pirates outfit. We walked around a little, and one store loaded the kids up with piles of candy! We didn’t know anyone to knock on their door, so we went home and waited for the neighbors to knock on ours. We left the kitchen window open, and the light on, and the kids found us! Angelina and Daniel handed out candy and enjoyed their first Halloween in France.
A good start to our new life in Capestang.